Review: It’s Quiet in the Cold

Written and directed by Jacob Ethan Tanner, a dangerous man hunts for a mysterious package. Starring: Robin Haley, Kit Sweet, Emily Farley and Nicholas Heaton.

The directorial style of this film is likely going to be its divisive element, it feels designed for discomfort, to keep you on edge and retain a mystery, which does work but that limited perspective does start to wane as time goes on. Never giving the full picture means that you’re not really giving your viewers something to hold onto, something to retain their attention through to the end, especially for a short that’s almost 20-minutes long. It would have been great to see it explore other styles, rather than limiting itself with a rather fractured feel. However, in its early stages there is also a quality to it, with the specific, focused lighting, which feels very theatrical, adding some weight to its dialogue. Even though the style has its flaws, it does still manage to build a solid amount of tension, especially through its pacing.

Tanner’s writing hits a lot of familiar notes from thrillers and crime dramas, it has the sense of threat and danger, with the mysterious destination. The interesting thing is that when you look at it as a whole, it’s very vague with little detail and is based on a few quick connected events and yet it works well. As you watch, you’re held on by its tension rather than a need to know more which means you can easily forgive that it’s not as complex perhaps as other stories.

The performances here are quite brief, they’re snapshots of characters so there isn’t a great deal to judge them upon but regardless, it’s a strong ensemble. They all feed into the atmosphere it’s building, adding the danger or fear and becoming a piece of the puzzle, the onus doesn’t rest on them but they round out the film’s presence as a whole. The only potential outlier is Farley’s scene at the end which requires a fairly physical performance and it comes across over the top and needed to scale back slightly, or tone it down.

It’s Quiet in the Cold is a tense crime story, it holds a certain level of mystery and it’s one that you may not find answers to but can enjoy, nevertheless. The direction goes for something very on edge, pushing you to fill in the perspective rather than giving you everything on a plate which works but also needed to change things up to hold your attention more consistently for its entirety. It’s an interesting debut short from Tanner that takes some risks, rather than playing it safe and while not all of them work, it’s still a solid debut.

Verdict: ✯✯½ | 5/10

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